The Syrian conflict continues to escalate. Last week rebels briefly took control of the only Syria-Israel border crossing.
There are reports that Syrian officials actually asked Israel to not fire at government forces while they subdued the rebels. Why communicate with the enemy? Because the Syrian army and the rebels had moved into the Golan Heights buffer zone created after the Yom Kippur War ceasefire.
The knock-on effect was that Austria pulled its troops from the United Nations peacekeeping force in the Golan. That’s 377 out of 911 UN troops, more than a third.
Russia very quickly offered to send troops. The United Nations rejected the offer, saying permanent UN Security Council members could not serve in observer missions in the area. Putin reportedly was appealing to Israel to override the the rule.
Maybe Russia’s offer would seem innocent in of itself. However, the same week, Russia announced it would have a permanent naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea. Add that to Russia’s tenacious support for Syrian president Bashar Assad, which includes providing weapons.
“Why is this significant?” asks Christian writer Joel Rosenberg. “Because it shows Putin is steadily escalating Russian military involvement in the Middle East.”
Ezekiel 38 and 39 tell of a war against Israel. The participants — listed by their ancient and modern names — are as follows:
- Magog—the Southern Steppes of Russia (former Soviet-bloc countries);
- Meshech and Tubal—Turkey;
- Ethiopia—Southern Egypt, Sudan, Somalia;
- Libya—Libya (may also include Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia);
- Gomer—North-Central Turkey;
- Togarmah—Eastern Turkey (source: Koinonia House).
Magog is the main player in this war.
According to Koinonia House, “The Jewish historian Josephus said, ‘Magog founded the Magogians, called Scythians by the Greeks.’ The most common identity for Magog is in Central Asia. The Scythians were a nomadic tribe who inhabited the ancient territory from Central Asia across the southern part of ancient Russia.”
KHouse also writes: “Hesiod, ‘the father of Greek didactic poetry,’ identified Magog with the Scythians and southern Russia in the 7th century B.C. (Hesiods writings precede the Book of Ezekiel.)” (Editor’s note: There are other theories as to the identity of Magog, and I encourage you to study the matter out for yourself.)
Persia, aka Iran, has been threatening Israel for years. Egypt and most of north Africa, Sudan, Somalia and even now Turkey are battling with extreme forms of Islam that regularly call for the destruction of Israel.
Russia’s continued, vocal involvement in the Middle East should at least be a warning flag to all believers. God himself will send fire on Magog in defense of Israel (Ezekiel 39:3-8). We see similar promises in Zechariah 12, when the nations will come out against Israel and God will defend Jerusalem.
This defense of Israel by God Himself is the coming of Messiah.
Then ADONAI will go out and fight against those nations, fighting as on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which lies to the east of Yerushalayim … (Zechariah 14:3-4 CJB)
For those of you interested in further studying Ezekiel 38 and 39, I recommend the following articles from Koinonia House.
- Magog Revisited
- The Treacherous Trio of Ezekiel 38
- The Magog Invasion: An Alternative View
Infrastructure for a coming dictator
I can’t let this roundup publish without touching on what was the biggest news item of the week: the revelation that the United States government has been collecting data on all phone calls from at least one telecommunications company and has some sort of access to user data from most major Internet companies.
The guy who leaked the info about the Internet surveillance revealed himself Sunday. He is Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee and NSA contractor. He told the Guardian, “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.” I recommend reading his story.
There are so many articles commenting, expanding and raising excellent questions like
- What If China Hacks the NSA’s Massive Data Trove?
- What was the Israeli involvement in collecting U.S. communications intel for NSA?
(It’s those pesky contractors. Yeah, NSA contracted their spying out.)
However, the headline that said it all was All the Infrastructure a Tyrant Would Need, Courtesy of Bush and Obama. Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic writes:
Even if all the critics were proved wrong, even if the CIA, NSA, FBI, and every other branch of the federal government had been improbably filled, top to bottom, with incorruptible patriots constitutionally incapable of wrongdoing, this would still be so: The American people have no idea who the president will be in 2017. …What we know is that the people in charge will possess the capacity to be tyrants… Bush and Obama have built infrastructure any devil would lust after. Behold the items on an aspiring tyrant’s checklist that they’ve provided their successors:
- A precedent that allows the president to kill citizens in secret without prior judicial or legislative review
- The power to detain prisoners indefinitely without charges or trial
- Ongoing warrantless surveillance on millions of Americans accused of no wrongdoing, converted into a permanent database so that data of innocents spied upon in 2007 can be accessed in 2027
- Normalizing situations in which the law itself is secret — and whatever mischief is hiding in those secret interpretations
- The permissibility of droning to death people whose identities are not even known to those doing the killing
Are we not awaiting a devil who will masquerade as Messiah?
Paper.li works a little like a newspaper. It categorizes the news into topics and is interactive. Click a topic on the right-hand column to “flip the page” and see another set of headlines. #Church includes headlines about persecution of the brothers. #Israel as all stories about “the apple of God’s eye.” #Matthew24 highlight end-time birth pangs detailed by Jesus.
[Editor’s note: Please click the screen capture to browse through this week’s headlines.]